Saturday, January 15


Ukraine is the latest nation to secede from the "Coalition of the Willing."

Ukraine's withdrawal punches a major and potentially fatal hole in the much-ballyhooed multinational division that Poland volunteered to lead in Iraq. Spain was the first to drop out, and Ukraine had the second-largest contingent after Poland itself.

The coalition has also lost Hungary, the Philippines and Honduras, among others, while Poland itself, long regarded as second only to Britain in its fealty to the United States, is talking of cutting back. Several other countries intend to reduce their participation in the next few months.

Most of these countries provided token forces of a few dozen or less. But the Bush administration expended considerable political capital to beg or bully governments into joining the campaign to give it the semblance of an international operation in the absence of a credible international endorsement. Washington was especially keen to underscore the support of young democracies, which were supposed to be better capable of appreciating the blessings that Iraq was about to reap.

But in Ukraine, neither bad old dictators nor promising new democrats ever really backed the Iraq war. Like many other coalition members, the government weighed the potential benefits of making nice to Washington against the potential costs of not doing so and hoped it would all be over soon. Now that doesn't look likely, the exodus is on. When you go for facade, facade is what you get.


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